Seven days remain until the start of the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney, and with teams now completing their finalpreparations, the excitement levels are building.
New Zealand’s new look Silver Ferns showedencouraging signs in their two wins over Norma Plummer’s South Africa, withcoach Wai Taumaunu giving court time to her full squad in the 67-28 and 68-44victories over the Proteas. The speedand rebounding ability of Tactix shooter Bailey Mes impressed, and while her shootingpercentages may not match those of Cathrine Latu, a surprise omission from theFerns squad for Sydney, her agility and unpredictable style looks set tochallenge defenders. Earlier in theweek, the Ferns ran out 91-31 winners against Fiji.
For the first time, the Silver Ferns will playin a colour other than black when they line up in Sydney, after revealing their“away” strip for the competition. Thealternate silver-grey dress, required by the competition organisers to preventcolour clashes, has been created by manufacturers BLK and may be called intoaction in New Zealand’s pool matches against Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago.
Uganda’s netballers will also be decked in newplaying kit for the World Cup, after suppliers Asiatic Sports presented the SheCranes with new playing, training and travelling kit before their departure forAustralia. The team was previouslyrelying on clothing purchased for the 2013 African netball championship and were literally jumping for joy after the presentation of their new kit.
Welsh ambitions for a seamless World Cupcampaign were dealt a blow when Trish Wilcox’s side allowed the AustralianNetball Centre of Excellence side to come from behind to take a 54-42 win whenthe two sides met in Tasmania. Despiteleading by seven goals at half time, Wales had no response to the sharpshootingof Georgie Virgo and Kiera Austin who scored 23 goals in the third quarter,with only seven Welsh goals scored in response. Wilcox’s side will look to return to winning ways in their two finaltraining games, against Scotland on Saturday and Tassie Spirit on Monday inHobart.
As Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls departed for theSouthern Hemisphere, Jamaica Netball Association president Marva Barnard isalready planning for the continued development and success of the game acrossthe country. With several senior players,including Sasha Gaye-Henry, intending to retire after the Sydney competition, Barnardand her administrative team will be looking outside the Kingston and St Andrewsareas to ensure that as many talented youngsters with potential as possible canbe brought into the performance pathways which lead up to the Sunshine Girls.
In a new broadcasting agreement, Malawianviewers will be able to watch the Queens progress in Sydney through the GoTVbroadcast service. The channel willscreen all the Malawian games live nationwide. Shooter Sindi Simtowe has been named as brand ambassador for GoTV andwill feature in advertising and marketing materials nationwide. Meanwhile, Malawi’s representative in the ANZChampionships, Mwayi Kumwenda has settled her differences with the country’sadministration and will line up for the Queens in Sydney.
Finally this week, England Netball has announced Vitality, the health and life insurer, as its new principalsponsor. Branding will feature on the Englandteam kit when they compete in Sydney as part of the new long-term agreementbetween the two organisations.
photos Janos Schmidt